India Sinking: Threats to the Right to Food, Food Security & Development, in an Era of Economic Growth

43 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2011

Date Written: 2009


Despite reports of being Asia’s next economic superpower, India is experiencing a crisis in food that threatens development, peace, and security. Affecting 700 million Indians, the food crisis is caused by the State’s failures to uphold its legal obligations to protect the international human right to food. Conflicting post-Independence agricultural policies, the Green Revolution, and neoliberal reforms imposed at the behest of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, have dismantled the country’s food production capacity. The result is increased hunger, poverty, malnutrition, starvation, deaths, vast social inequities, inflated food prices, the decimation of small-scale farming, epidemic farmer suicides, and the loss of biodiversity, each of which violate the international human right to food, and threaten development, peace, and security. Part II of this article sets out India’s legal obligations to protect the right to food, the prerequisite of this right for development, and the duty of the State to ensure non-State actors respect this right. Part III of this article explains how and why policy reforms in India have removed key resources from small-scale farmers and rural Indians, leaving India with the highest malnutrition, poverty, and hunger rates in the world. Part IV concludes that the neoliberal reforms have resulted in the failure of the right to food and the right to development in the country, and have perpetuated poverty, powerlessness, and exclusion among India’s poor; India must pursue a development strategy that is human-rights centered, and must implement economic reforms that are grounded in justice, equity, and respect for the inherent dignity of the human being. Some initial areas for reform are identified as a means for the Indian government to protect the right to food, and to work towards the realization of the full benefits of development for all Indians.

Suggested Citation

Pillay, Sukanya, India Sinking: Threats to the Right to Food, Food Security & Development, in an Era of Economic Growth (2009). Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2009, Available at SSRN:

Sukanya Pillay (Contact Author)

University of Windsor ( email )

401 Sunset Avenue
Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4

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